Emergency Services in Northern Ireland have launched this years Firework Safety Campaign ahead of Halloween week. The launch which took place at Hammer Youth Centre in North Belfast involved the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).
By Declan Keogh
The campaign is aimed at young people aged between 11 and 25 and highlights the dangers of fireworks and the importance of following the Fireworks Code. The joint safety initiative was delivered in partnership between the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Department of Justice.
‘Halloween is a time for family fun and responsibility for all’. That was the message from Public Safety Minister Jim Wells and Justice Minister David Ford, as they pleaded with the public to make sure their loved ones remain safe this Halloween period. The Ministers and members of the Police, Fire and Ambulance services of Northern Ireland were joined by young people from both Hammer Youth Club and Ardoyne Youth club as they watched a Fireworks display to demonstrate importance of fireworks safety and reminded that fireworks should only be lit in a safe and controlled environment by a responsible adult.
Minister: ‘Everyone has a duty of care’
Praising the low number of injuries last year, Health Minister Jim Wells said: “In 2013 we had the lowest number of injuries ever recorded with only six injuries reported throughout the whole province. This is a remarkable effort and we want to see this effort maintained, and improved. It would be absolutely fantastic if no injuries were recorded this year. Every one of us has a duty of care to ensure fireworks are handled responsibly to prevent fireworks related injuries to all, particularly children and young people. We all want to relax and enjoy this time with our friends and family. Most of all we want to protect and sustain the life of our loved ones.” he said.
Minister Wells also reminded people of the traumatic effects that fireworks can have on our elderly neighbours, and also pets and farm animals, and again appealed to everyone, to stay safe and act responsibly.
The Justice Minister David Ford highlighted the legal requirement to secure a licence to use fireworks and the importance of buying from a legitimate supplier. He said: “The law on fireworks is very clear. Purchasers must obtain a fireworks licence from the Department of Justice and they must be purchased from a registered supplier. I would appeal to those using fireworks to abide by the Fireworks Safety Code as I do not want to see people breaking the law by buying fireworks without a licence or using fireworks that may be unsafe.”
PSNI Chief ‘Fireworks must be bought from a licensed dealer’
Chief Inspector Peter Bobby Singleton, PSNI said: “We want Halloween to be a safe and enjoyable time for everyone. Most people are responsible and safely enjoy the festivities, but the very simple fact is that fireworks are made from explosive material and if misused, can cause serious and life changing injuries. Everyone should follow the official advice and have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. The law clearly states that fireworks must be bought from a licensed dealer who is required to keep sales records. Fireworks bought from other sources could be of a sub-standard quality presenting an even bigger risk of injury. It is also essential that you have a licence when purchasing any fireworks.”
The PSNI is also appealing to the community to help stamp out illegal trading and misuse of fireworks by contacting police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Your information may help prevent ongoing anti-social behaviour or someone being seriously injured. Local Neighbourhood Policing Team will provide advice and assistance if required.
NIFRS ACFO ‘Never go near a lit firework, even if it hasn’t gone off’
Firefighters will visit schools across Northern Ireland in the run up to Halloween to remind young people of the dangers of fireworks. Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Community Protection, NIFRS said: “Last year’s all time low in the number of people attending Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland with firework-related injuries is good news, however 6 people were still injured and we want to reach a time in Northern Ireland when there are no firework-related injuries. Injuries can be prevented by following the Fireworks Code and acting responsibly when handling fireworks and sparklers will ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Halloween this year. Always follow the manufacturer’s advice on how to light and use fireworks and sparklers correctly.
Never go near a lit firework, even if it hasn’t gone off, as it could still explode and always let fireworks cool and dispose of them carefully. Never allow small children or pets to go near fireworks. Remember Fireworks are safe and can be fun but only if you use them properly.”
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has witnessed at first hand the life changing injuries that can be caused by fireworks. Brian McNeill, Director of Operations with NIAS said “Injuries that are caused in a moment of carelessness that can never be bought back and can have a debilitating impact that can last forever. NIAS Paramedics have witnessed at first hand the life changing injuries that can be caused by fireworks. We would urge people to follow the Fireworks Code and ensure that an adult is always in charge. Have fun but stay safe!”